One-of-a-kind Weddings

Make it a family affair …

It has been said that when a bride and groom get married, they don’t just marry each other, they marry families. In the case of Erin and Christopher Duhan, their families married them — or at least provided every detail to make their wedding day special.

Wendy and Scott Harrington, Erin’s mother and father, hosted four weddings in as many years for family and friends, so they were determined to make their youngest daughter’s day special.

For a ceremony location, the Harringtons didn’t have to look much further than their own Hampton home. The house was built in the 1750s. It was once owned by Dr. Charles Sanborn, a physician and an abolitionist, who purportedly helped those escaping slavery in the South by offering his cellar as a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.

“We’ve lived here for 18 years,” says Wendy Harrington, “and we’re only the fifth family to own the house.”

With such rich history to the home itself, Harrington then set out to make the property just as remarkable.

“We knew Erin wanted lots of pinks, so we planted lots of annuals and perennials,” she says. She, Scott and sister-of-the-bride Kate planted literally thousands of blooms early in the season, watering them for nearly three hours a day, so they would be in full color for Erin’s August 13 wedding.

As Erin’s and Chris’ wedding day drew closer, the family used flowers from the gardens to fill decorative containers and hanging baskets. Peonies and roses floating in the family’s heirloom milk glasses served as table centerpieces. Harrington also fashioned chair
decorations with silk flowers and ribbons.

To introduce guests to the history of the property and the wedding party, Harrington handcrafted hardcover wedding programs. She also lent her calligraphy skills to the seating chart hand painted by a family friend who is an artist and art teacher.

Harrington, also an accomplished seamstress, sewed the flower girl’s dress. Seven-year-old Laura, Chris’ daughter, wore a sleeveless pink taffeta dress with a full skirt overlaid with
beribboned organza.

For the bride and bridesmaids, Harrington crafted purses from lively tropical-print fabric that she and Erin picked out. “I have a funky taste,” says Erin. “I wanted my style to match for each bridesmaid and fit their style, too.” Inside, she placed a pearl bracelet for each bridesmaid as a gift.

Father-of-the-bride Scott was not to be outdone. A finish cabinetmaker by trade, he created perhaps the most poignant wedding pieces — the altar and flower pedestals.

Family and friends provided music for the ceremony and reception. As talented with the drums as he is a hammer, Scott played with the pianist (a family friend) and even sang “A Song For My Daughter” to Erin and his new “son” Chris. Erin’s sister Kate sang “Have I Told You Lately I Love You,” a favorite song of Chris’, to the bride and groom.
The wedding day was certainly filled with sentimental touches, but there were some whimsical elements, too. Erin, 24, an early childhood educator at Appleseeds Day School in Exeter, and Chris, 25, employed at Foss Manufacturing in Hampton, enjoy fun and flavorful martinis, so Erin and mom Wendy created a special cocktail for the day. The “Love-tini” combined Erin’s favorite flavors of raspberry and cranberry with vodka to create the signature drink. They served the martini in hand-painted martini glasses — painted in Erin’s pink. These also became favors for guests to take home.

“They were a real hit. There were none left over,” says Erin.

To bring the day to a spectacular close, the bride’s uncle, a firefighter, provided a fireworks display.

For a wedding day filled with special memories, Erin says it was difficult to pick just one favorite. “So many stand out. The toast my mother gave at the reception comparing the growing and blossoming gardens to our relationship, the altar my father built for us, the gardens,” says Erin. “They gave us the best day of our lives. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.” NHB

Bride’s dress and bridesmaid gowns: Occasions Bridal, Portsmouth

Bride’s pearl tiara: Winters & Rain, Campton
Florals: “F” as in Flowers, Exeter

Photography: Kymberly Burns Photography

Tent rentals: Exeter Rent-All, Exeter

Invitations: The Paper Patch, Portsmouth

Keyboard rental: Darrel’s Music Hall, Portsmouth

Bridesmaids bracelets: Quicksilvers, Hampton

Make it reflect your passions …
Photography by Melinda Butler

After their wedding ceremony by the sea on a bright day in August, Jane Maguire and Roy Hasselman of Manchester led their guests past large palm trees and an African wall hanging that Jane had quilted to the reception tent at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye.

In the tent, which had a spectacular ocean view, they found tables set with tan linens, accented with napkins and squares of brightly colored African Kente and animal print fabrics.

Tables were named for the animals of Africa, and each centerpiece of lush palm included a replica of the animal to lead guests to their seats. The napkins and centerpieces were created by the bride’s mother. The flowers — bright and tropical — complemented the bright blue of the bridesmaid’s dresses. The bride’s bouquet, wrapped with raffia, carried a silver swan as a remembrance of her deceased brother.

Guests dined on authentic African food like cumin roasted lamb (Ghana), Pillau-jasmine rice (Kenya/Tanzania) and banana and chili fritters (West Africa). Pitchers of clove-spiced lemonade were set at every table. The three-tier cake created by I Dream of Jeanne Cakes to look like African animal prints was topped with a gorgeous tropical flower sculpted in sugar paste by the baker.

The couple’s wedding coordinator, Melanie Bibbo of Blissful Beginnings Wedding and Event Design of Portsmouth (603-436-6222, www.blissfulbeginnings), says the theme was designed to “tie together the interests and passions of the bride and groom.” One of them was African food so they chose an eclectic African menu and décor to capture the African culture.

Bibbo says today’s couples personalize their weddings to make them stand out from other weddings they’ve been to and, as a result, they spend a lot of time thinking about and planning for them.

“Just about every wedding I’ve done this year has had a theme,” she says. “People, though, are looking at them in a slightly different way. Rather than something overt — ‘let’s make it about Halloween’ — they are incorporating themes that are more subtle, maybe just an emotional feeling or a color scheme.” NHB

Wedding coordinator: Melanie Bibbo, Blissful Beginnings Wedding and Event Design, Portsmouth

Photographer: Melinda Butler Photography, Nashua

Rentals: Marshall Rental, Portsmouth

Caterer: Tasting Africa, Vermont

Floral designer: Patricia Cowhig, The Elegant Touch

Cake: I Dream of Jeanne Cakes

Invitations: HandCrafted by Sarah Prye

Seating chart and guest book: ART by Lisa

Band: The Push Stars

Ceremony and cocktail musicians: Michael Sucher and Sandra Wright